Protecting civilians in armed conflict

2009-09-15

– ny workshop för diplomater i FN: s och Palmefondens regi

NEW YORK, 14 September (UNITAR) – The Olof Palme Memorial Fund and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) are joining forces once more to strengthen the skills of developing country diplomats in the field of multilateral negotiations. The new negotiation training workshop for delegates at UN Headquarters on "Negotiating International Peace and Security: the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict", which is part of the on-going capacity building package for developing countries at the UN supported by the Government of Sweden and the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, take place today and tomorrow, 14-15 September 2009 in New York.

This training aims to provide 40 delegates, mostly from developing and least developed countries, with the necessary skills and analytical tools to enhance their contributions to Security Council negotiations concerning the protection of civilians in armed conflict, particularly women and children. The participatory and practice-oriented workshop will engage seasoned negotiators and experts from within the UN system in discussions on negotiation experiences and best practices. Current and past Security Council Members, such as Ambassador Augustine P. Mahiga, Tanzania's Ambassador to the United Nations, will share their wealth of experiences with regards to the particular dynamics of Security Council negotiations.

The selected case studies on civilian protection, sexual violence, and children and armed conflict are timely and pressing, explains Ambassador Pierre Schori, Chair of the Palme Memorial Fund and former UN Head of Mission in Côte d'Ivoire: "By integrating the necessary thematic and skills-oriented aspects of formulating these mandates into diplomats' negotiation "tool kits", this workshop seeks to contribute to closing the gap between decision-making at the Security Council and its implications for UN field missions and country-specific realities. In this context, the empowerment of women as drivers for peace, and more effective protection for women in armed conflict, are among the most pressing issues."

In her opening statement today, Dr. Colleen Thouez, Head of the UNITAR New York Office, expressed her gratitude to the Government of Sweden for supporting this initiative: "The Swedish support helps us to address the high demand by Member States for capacity building in the area of negotiation skills and techniques as applied to the pressing issues of our time. This new advanced-level course format will contextualize delegates' proficiencies, and equip them with both skills and technical background to make valuable contributions to open debates on the Council on improving the international community's responses to the suffering of civilians, in particular women and children, in situations of armed conflict."

The workshop is part of the six-pronged 2009 UNITAR / Olof Palme Negotiation Training Series launched last March. Since then, more than one hundred delegates, mostly from developing and least developed countries, have been trained in specialized areas such as climate change diplomacy.

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For more information, please contact:
Mr. Colleen Thouez, Head, UNITAR Office New York, tel.:+1-212-963-9683; or Mr. Pierre Schori, Chairman of the Board, Olof Palme Memorial Fund, tel. +1-617-785-5363